Documentary film-maker Nick Broomfield gives us yet another compelling tale of relentless journalism and ruthless killings; Tales of the Grim Sleeper. In this eye opening piece of footage, Broomfield tackles the ongoing anxieties surrounding the LAPD linked to such a high profile case; a series of murders by the unidentified ‘Grim Sleeper’. This disturbing feature spans across nearly 30 long years, where Lonnie Franklin Jr was said to have raped and killed over 100 women, but was only ever charged with 10. Broomfield argues all the signs were there. Women were going missing, last seen in Lonnie’s company; but how on earth did this all go unnoticed not just by law, but his family and friends?
Naturally, we see interviews with Lonnie’s closest friends and local’s from his neighbourhood. At first, it almost seems as if they were just covering for this “horny old man”. Even blood on the back seat of his car and a shoe box containing Polaroid’s of drugged-up women in suggestive poses, apparently never raised an eyebrow. It’s hard to believe no one noticed anything, not even his wife. Yet, in this study of urban crime, it seems as though no one really cared about prostitutes, drug addicts or homeless women disappearing into thin air. In fact, at one point it was insinuated that he was cleaning up the streets for the police and on numerous occasions received fan mail for doing so.
When presented with all the stats, if indeed all are reliable; it potentially makes Lonnie the most prolific serial killer in history. Ironically, his arrest was accidental; however every piece of evidence collated over this long investigation all points towards this one man. Considering the police withheld vital information and facts from the public, all sorts of questions start to arise. It is apparent the only say these riddled streets have are through the voices of the determined women who formed the Black Coalition Fighting Back Serial Murders back in the 80’s. Inequality is high lightened to such an extent and it becomes clear these women think that they were deliberately withholding information that in turn resulted in many more tragic killings.
Once presented with all the facts it’s hard to see why this man hadn’t been locked up years ago. The people crying out to be heard are finally getting listened to, but everything they tried to accomplish gets swiftly swept away as all we are subjected to is their animosity towards the ‘White-American’ police force. Subsequently, this becomes a cry for help amongst poorer communities in The States. The one thought that plays on your mind in the haunting truth that even if the killer is caught, the precautions put in place will never eradicate the terrible events that occurred.
What emerges from Broomfield’s extensive exploration is the horrifying truth that racism is still infecting society. This is an insightful yet downbeat documentary that is sure to shock and frustrate many viewers.